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Charter school cover-up

23 May 2014

Charter school cover-up

The Green Party is challenging the Government to come clean about how much it’s planning to spend on the latest round of charter schools, as officials warn of the serious risks involved in opening more schools without first seeing whether the existing ones are working.

A list of groups who expressed an interest in applying to run a new charter school next year was released last night. Many of the organisations are religious and many failed in their bids to run charter schools in the last application round.

This comes as Ministry of Education officials warn that the Government has no idea how charter schools may be hurting other schools, that there are inconsistencies in the size of charter schools and what’s considered efficient for other state schools, and that there is a risk of continuing to fund them every year before evaluating whether they’re working well.

“Officials are warning of considerable risks associated with ploughing ahead with more charter schools without knowing whether the existing ones are working for kids, whether they’re hurting other schools in their neighbourhood, or are even good value for money,” Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said today.

“It is amazingly arrogant to plough ahead with plans to open more charter schools when the ones already open have not been proven to be successful, could be damaging other schools in the area, and are sucking up so much money.

“The existing five charter schools are already set to cost $9 million more than was budgeted last year and the Government is keeping secret how much it is planning to spent on the entire next round of new schools.

“The total amount being spent on the current round of charters is now $26 million over their first four years - a staggering amount - which is probably why the Government is keeping secret how much it plans to spend on the next round.

“There was no mention at all in the budget about how much National and Act were planning to spend on the new round of charter schools. Instead the amount is buried somewhere in the overall contingency fund.

“Public schools throughout the country can only dream of being given the amount of money that charter schools get. Imagine what schools could achieve with five times the amount they currently receive.

“No wonder charters can afford to feed their kids, don’t need to ask for parent donations and can provide free transport to and from school.

“Charter schools were sold as an alternative to ordinary state schools, which didn’t need to follow the curriculum, meet quality standards or employ trained teachers.

“But how is it possible to see how well these schools are really doing when they’re getting five times as much money as other state schools?

“Charter schools are an extreme right idea that’s rooted in the belief that the state does not have a role in running schools. They’re an attack on public education which use children in poorer communities to experiment on,” said Ms Delahunty.

Link to official advice listing the concerns about the Partnership School programme: www.minedu.govt.nz/~/media/MinEdu/Files/TheMinistry/PartnershipSchools/SecondApplication/EdReportAnnualApplicationRounds.pdf

ENDS

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